TL;DR: Here’s a brief summary of how I’m doing roughly through the first month of the digital detox from digital minimalism I wrote about at the beginning of the year. For those who haven’t read the article, this is based on the book Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport.
Digital Minimalism, Update 1
Recall from the first post that Digital Minimalism is defined as:
a philosophy of technology use in which you focus your online time on a small number of carefully selected and optimized activities that strongly support things you value, and then happily miss out on everything else.
So this idea is what’s in the background of my mind as I’ve undergone the whole digital detoxing process of taking a thirty day break:
During this monthlong process, you must aggressively explore higher-quality activities to fill in the time left vacant by the optional technologies you’re avoiding. This period should be one of strenuous activity and experimentation.
How It’s Going
Since I’m right in the middle of that thirty day break, here’s a list of how life is going thus far:
- I find myself reaching for books more often. This month, I’ve read three books, two non-fiction and one fiction. and am currently on track to finish five this month. One fiction, one note. Though I’m not someone who’s concerned about “how many books per year,” I am concerned about the quality of what I’m reading.
- I’ve doubled the time I spend and varied the types of exercise. This isn’t to say that I wasn’t exercising before, but I’ve found working out for longer periods of time (that is, around 60 minutes) better. I’ve also introduced more of a variety than running, jump rope, and HIIT.
- I’ve had better, longer conversations either on the phone or in person. I live close to my family and see them on a regular basis but I find myself spending more time listening and having better conversations than before. And if I don’t have a chance to talk, I just pick up the phone.
- I play my guitar more. Used to, I was playing my guitar at least 30 minutes to 60 minutes a night. Now I’m playing it for much longer. Sometimes the intent behind it is simply to jam and to get into the flow or sometimes it’s to study something more technical about theory.
- Work is more focused. Speaking of getting into the flow, it affects my time at work. I’ve always tried very hard to work at my best but between the new methodology of time blocking and trying hard to adhere to that and my day-to-day tasks, I find myself getting more and more into the flow much easier.
- Better Sleep. I’m not one who tends to read the news and fret much about what I read (this isn’t to say I don’t consume as much as the next person and have opinions, but I don’t internalize much of it), but I find that I fall asleep and stay as sleep much more. I think this likely has more to do with getting into a rhythm of reading then going to sleep habitually than anything else. But it’s worth the mention.
- Things Feel Slower. Time feels far less pressured though nothing about work, home, or family life has changed at all. We still have our busy schedules, multiple activities, calendars, etc. But the constant go that I sometimes felt is getting quieter. Instead, I’m finding that I’ve a clearer head and I’m thinking through problems both at work and at home more clearly. Further, I attribute this to time blocking (which is essentially me telling my time how I’ll spend it; not being at the mercy of my calendar). But I wouldn’t have started this had it not been for the digital minimalism push.
- Relationships Surface. One of the things that I was concerned about taking certain apps off of my phone was losing touch with people. The book talks about this so I won’t cover it here, but suffice it to say that some of the people with whom I was afraid have losing touch have reached out via iMessage or asked how they can reach me. And we’ve talked that way.
- Fewer Commercials. Remember when we first got into streaming and the awesome thing about it was no commercials? Without social media on my phone nor any non-paid applications that serve news or information, I see no commercials. I truly had no idea how many commercials I was seeing among the usual social networks. Don’t miss it.
- More Podcasts. I listen to more podcasts than I did prior to when I did this (and I was already very diligent and some what rigid about listening to podcasts). Not only have I found more, but I’ve really thought about the ones I already listen to and wonder if they are worth it. So I set up schedules for the ones I have so it keeps only the last N-number of episodes. If I get to them, great; if not, no worries. I also unsubscribed from a few.
- More Games, More Paper. A couple of our kids are at an age where both board games and video games are part of what we do. But if there’s a puzzle or a map or something I want to show them with regard to a game I’m playing or they are playing, I can’t use my screen to bring it up. So I print it while I’m at work and use it afterwards.
- While I’m at Work. I still use Twitter when I’m at work for a number of reasons but only when I’m at work and I’m still working through the best way to handle my friends list. I don’t know if I want to stick with a single feed or start using Dunbar’s Number and then using lists. But I’m giving a lot of thought to this, but only during certain times of the day.
- Side Projects. When I have some downtime or time after hours that isn’t focused on something else, I’ve been spending it writing articles for this site as well as working on other projects that I hope to release this year. Case in point: I’ve got four WordPress plugins done, another one in development, and they have nothing to do with anything related to FSE or the Block Editor. They are simply things I wish WordPress has built-in, that make my life easier, and that I think could help others. More on this later, though.
According to iOS’ Screen Time feature, I average around one hour a day and that includes if I listen to podcasts, have to use Maps, use Spotify, etc.
Granted, with something like this, I’m likely leaving something out but this isn’t a bad list for being halfway through the month, I suppose. I’m not going to urge you one way or the other to read the book and do what it says.
To each their own.
I will say, however, that I do not regret doing this, I’m eager to see where I am in two more weeks (though I probably won’t have a post about it until February), and I’m interested in any questions, comments, or general feedback you may have. So let me know.
📝 Remember, I’m in the middle of writing a series of using Ray in WordPress so if you’re interested in reading something in-depth that may benefit you as a developer, don’t forget to check it out, too.